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Hard Hard Times

  • (Eric Bogle)

    It's hard times living in the lucky country
    Hard hard times
    Black man say, Poor fella my country
    Hard hard times

    Jackie's on the street with his bottle of grog
    Hard hard times
    He'll try and bite you for a couple o' bob
    Hard hard times
    His dreamtime people run wild and free
    Pitjantjatjara, Aranda and Gurindji (Aboriginal tribes)
    But the dreamtime's finished and so is he
    Hard hard times

    Poor Jackie's a stranger in his own land
    Hard hard times
    Living in a world he can't understand
    Hard hard times
    Wrecked and drowning in a sea of grog
    His pride and self-respect's been robbed
    Worse off than a white man's dog
    Hard hard times

    It's birds have fled from the rocks and trees
    Hard hard times
    The land is sick from white man's disease
    Hard hard times
    The lust and greed does them betray
    They rape the land to make it pay
    The black man just got in their way
    Hard hard times

    The black man's dreamtime's dead and gone
    Hard hard times
    The white man's dreamtime marches on
    Hard hard times
    They tried to make you civilised
    They just don't seem to realise
    What they touch they bastardise
    Hard hard times

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1985:] [...] described in Bourke as a 'trendy, left-wing, urbanised, bleeding heart, do-gooder type of song about the so-called plight of the Aborigines in Australia'. Exactly! (Notes Eric Bogle, 'When the Wind Blows')

  • [1988:] Es gibt Dinge, die man am liebsten nie gesagt hätte. Ich persönlich wünschte, ich könnte die drei mißverständlichsten Worte zurücknehmen, die heute in Australien in Mode sind. Sie heißen 'The lucky country' - das glückliche Land. Diese Formulierung erfand ich 1963, als ich an einem Buch über Australien schrieb, und sie erschien mir damals für einen Titel genau richtig. Als 'The Lucky Country' im Jahre 1964 erschien, wurde der ironische Unterton noch allgemein verstanden. Australien - das wollte ich damit sagen - [...] hatte Glück, weil es wirtschaftlich erfolgreich war, ohne selbst innovativ und kreativ sein zu müssen. [...] Sein Reichtum an Bodenschätzen korrespondierte mit einer vollständigen technologischen Abhängigkeit vom britischen Mutterland. [...] Dann brach eine Glückssträhne über den Kontinent herein und veränderte die Bedeutung meiner Worte: der Minenboom, der in Australien die späten sechziger Jahre bestimmte. [Aber] die Impulse des Booms gingen fast ausschließlich von ausländischen Firmen aus. Ein Großteil der einheimischen Minenindustrie geriet unter fremde Kontrolle. Die Euphorie des Minenbooms, mitsamt der Inanspruchnahme meiner glücklosen Worte, versperrte den Australiern die Sicht auf diese Schwächen ihres Wirtschaftssystems. [...] Inzwischen ist es Mode geworden, zu behaupten, daß die Tage des 'glücklichen Landes' vorbei sind. Damit ist zum Teil gemeint, daß die Weltmarktpreise der meisten Agrarprodukte und Rohstoffe gesunken sind und vielleicht weiter unten bleiben werden - der Produkte eben, die praktisch das gesamte Exporteinkommen Australiens ausmachen. (Horne, Merian Australien 106)

  • [1991:] 'Dreamtime land' is the aboriginal name for Australia. Even though it's turned into a nightmare for them they still call it the Dreamtime Land. (Eric Bogle, intro Tonder)

  • [1991:] Im vormals - und auch heute noch teilweise - schwer zugänglichen tasmanischen Busch lebten einst die Aborigines, die australischen und tasmanischen Ureinwohner. Sie waren ein Nomadenvolk, das vor rund vierzigtausend Jahren von Südostasien nach Australien zog. Die Aborigines betrachten das Land als Mittelpunkt ihres Universums. Es zu besitzen ist für ihr Verständnis unmöglich. Sie fühlen sich als Treuhänder von Urzeitwesen, in deren Auftrag sie das Land behüten, bis auch sie zurückgehen in die 'dreamtime', wo die Seelen der Ungeborenen und der Toten auf sie warten.

    Die Geschichte der Aborigines zählt zu den traurigsten Kapiteln Australiens. Die "wilden, grausamen schwarzen Heiden" wurden verfolgt, "bekehrt", in Reservate verbannt, so daß von ehemals 300.000 heute nur noch rund 140.000 Aborigines in teilweise unwürdigem Zustand dahinvegetieren. In Tasmanien fanden Mitte des letzten Jahrhunderts regelrechte Treibjagden statt, bei denen Tausende der Urbewohner getötet wurden. Die 200 Überlebenden verbannte man auf Flinders Island, damals eine unbewohnte kleine Insel im Norden, wo der letzte Aboriginal Tasmaniens 1876 starb. Angesichts des erbitterten Kampfes der Ureinwohner darf die oft verbreitete Mär der "friedlichen Kolonisation" als schlechter Witz gelten. Mittlerweile bemüht man sich staatlicherseits, die Lebensverhältnisse der australischen Aborigines zu verbessern. (Theo Dorant, taz, 31. August)

  • [1998:] While I was learning to swim in the magnificent ocean baths overlooking Bondi Beach, Aboriginal children were prevented from entering public swimming pools all over Australia. Then in 1966, Charlie Perkins, who became the first Aboriginal university graduate, chained himself to the turnstile of the municipal pool at Moree in western New South Wales and withstood threats and violence until the first black kids were allowed in.

    Three years later, Charlie and I smashed down the gate of the Aboriginal reserve at Jay Creek in the Northern Territory by driving a Ford Falcon at it. Heddy, Charlie's mother and a queen of the Aranda people, was in the back seat wearing her best black hat. 'Do it', she said.

    This was an Australia I had never imagined. Moree and Jay Creek were part of our Gulag. At Jay Creek, in the red heart of the country, 300 people lived in administered squalor, often without water in 40-degree summer temperatures and with the pipes frozen in winter. In exchange for the 'security' of the reserve, they were subjected to a series of arbitrary, petty and often brutal punishments, such as enforced separation from their immediate family. Every other Thursday, tourists came [...].

    Today, Aborigines are counted in the census, have the vote and limited powers to run their own affairs through land councils. Few young white Australians are in doubt that 'their' country belonged to others, from whom it was taken violently. [...] In the media, the statistics of genocide are no longer reported on page 16 of the 'Sydney Morning Herald' by the 'Environmental Writer', which was the case little more than a decade ago. More important, there has been a renaissance among black Australians, producing writers, historians, artists and activists [...].

    But behind the facades of Australia, the truth remains. The poverty of Aboriginal people is so desperate that, according to one study, 40 per cent lack 'the most basic needs imaginable to stay alive'. Their life expectancy is matched only in India and Central Africa. Aboriginal infant mortality is three times higher than that of white children. The health of Aboriginal women has so deteriorated that the death rate is now up to six times that of white women. [...] In the late Eighties, a Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody heard that black children made up 2,7 per cent of the youth of Western Australia and 58 per cent of those in prison. There was evidence of beatings and torture. [The] commission made 339 recommendations. Not one of them called for criminal charges against police or prison officers. Since then, Aborigines have been imprisoned at a rate higher than ever before and the number dying behind bars has doubled.

    When his Conservative coalition was elected in 1996, Prime Minister John Howard's first act was to slash more than $A400 million from the Aboriginal affairs budget [...]. He also impoverished the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, whose responsibility is to protect minorities and raise awareness about racism. 'Political correctness', as he put it, had 'gone too far'. There should be 'a new spirit of freedom of expression'. No one doubted his real meaning. [The] country that pioneered the notion of full employment [...] is in deep economic trouble, and scapegoats are required. [...]

    [The] Native Title Act, passed by Federal Parliament in 1993[,] removed from common law the fiction that Australia was uninhabited when Captain James Cook planted the Union Flag in 1770. Known as Terra Nullius (empty land), it was used for most of two centuries to justify the dispossession of the indigenous people. However, the judges added an escape clause. In deciding that Aborigines might have title to 'Crown Land', they ruled that the new land rights could be 'extinguished' by the existence of freehold and leasehold of the huge pastoral estates. Many of these huge ranches were acquired by the sons of nineteenth-century English aristocrats simply by 'squatting' on them: that is, they were stolen.

    There is a secret history here. The present-day 'squatters' are more aware than any that the land is not 'theirs'. Most farmers and their pioneer forebears could not have held or managed the land, especially in the harsh Australian environment, where drought can last for years, without the support of the Aboriginal community. These stockmen were paid less than half of the wages of white workers. Their pay went into savings accounts held by the state-owned Commonwealth Bank, which issued passbooks to be held by the local Aboriginal 'protector', usually a missionary or a policeman. The men could not withdraw even the smallest amount without the custodian's agreement, and because many were illiterate they were unable to read the amounts deposited or withdrawn. A lifetime's work often left a balance of a few hundred dollars. The rest had 'disappeared'.

    [No feeling of guilt at this was] evident in the clamour of the 'pastoralists' and their lobbyists for the new native title legislation to be tested and, they hoped, discredited. [However, in] 1996, the High Court ruled that [...] a lease was a lease; it granted possession only for a specific period.

    [Then John Howard] produced a blueprint for legislation that would, at a stroke, convert leasehold to freehold and effectively wipe out Native Title. The beneficiaries will be some of the richest and most powerful companies and individuals in white Australia. Forty-two per cent of the continent will pass under the control of fewer than 20,000 people, whose influence is magnified by their political and media connections. [...] Nothing like it has been proposed in a modern society; it means the reintroduction of race into the political mainstream and the expropriation from one group of Australians, the native people, of property rights that the highest court in the land has said are theirs.

    [At the same time, a report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission] concluded that up to a third of Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families between 1910 and 1970, a total of 100,000 stolen children. Confined in white missions, institutions and foster homes, the children were forced into a form of slavery, often physically and sexually abused and denied protection by the state. [...] As previously suppressed files now reveal, there was no pretence of taking into care 'neglected' children, who were stolen from loving two-parent families. When I was growing up, this was known as 'assimilation'. The stolen boys were sent to sheep and cattle stations as labourers and paid in rations and pennies. The girls, who were the majority, were sent for training as domestic servants, then 'indentured' to 'masters' in white middle-class homes. [The Human Rights Commission] announced: 'We as a committee have decided that what was done in Australia meets the international definition of genocide ... Genocide is the attempt to destroy a people, a culture. The first act was the tragic dispossession of Aboriginal people of their land. The second act was the dispossession of Aboriginal people of their children ... What is the third act going to be? Are we now witnessing [...] the completion of the first act, the dispossession of the land?' (John Pilger, Observer, 22 Mar)

  • [1998:] The only way to get to windswept Hindmarsh Island and its handful of holiday shacks is by a slow 12- car ferry across the mouth of the Murray River. [Plans] to connect it to the mainland remain an unfortunate symbol of the often unbridgeable gap between the aspirations of black and white Australians. [...] The project won full approval but in 1994 some Ngarrindjeri women claimed the bridge would desecrate secret beliefs which linked the island and their fertility. [...] Soon afterwards 14 other Ngarrindjeri women came forward to reveal that the so-called 'women's business' was a hoax concocted solely to stop the bridge from going ahead. A royal commission's finding that the 'secrets' were fabricated caused great damage to the credibility of other Aboriginal claims involving sacred sites. [...]

    Fears that [under the 1994 Native Title Act] Aboriginals could now claim freehold land, and even suburban backyards, have gripped the white community, especially outback farmers. The Federal Parliament has been debating amendments to the Liberal government's Bill on Aboriginal rights to control land in the vast outback. Last week the Senate rejected Prime Minister John Howard's 10-point plan, giving him the right to dissolve both Houses of Parliament and take the country to the polls in what has been called a 'race election'. [...] It is in this climate [...] that the Hindmarsh Bridge decision [allowing it to go ahead] and the battles that led to it have taken on such significance. [...] But the Ngarrindjeri women, who still stand by their secrets, intend to take the issue to the United Nations and will receive funding from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. (Christopher Zinn, Observer, 12 Apr)

  • Cf. John Pilger, Heroes 543ff; Bruce Chatwin, Songlines

  • german  [2001:] Australiens Ureinwohner sterben 20 Jahre früher als Mitglieder anderer Bevölkerungsgruppen auf dem fünften Kontinent. Ursache ist vor allem der schlechte allgemeine Gesundheitszustand, verursacht durch Vernachlässigung. Immer lautstarker fordern deshalb Aborigines-Gruppen, Ärzte und Nichtregierungsorganisationen eine Verbesserung der Gesundheitsversorgung für die Ureinwohner. Im weltweiten Vergleich, so Fran Baum, Vorsitzende der "Public Health Alliance", "ist Australien eine internationale Schande". Kanada und die USA seien viel weiter, was die Gesundheitsversorgung ihrer Ureinwohnerbevölkerungen angehe. [...]

    Erst in den letzten Jahren hat die australische Regierung Schritte zur Verbesserung der Gesundheitsversorgung unternommen. Seit 1996 stiegen die Ausgaben für sie um mehr als 50 Prozent. In den nächsten vier Jahren soll dieser Etat noch einmal um rund 50 Prozent erhöht werden. Dennoch ist es laut Gustav Nossal, dem Vorsitzenden des "Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation" eine Lüge, wenn die Regierung oder bestimmte politische Kreise behaupten, man habe den Aborigines tonnenweise Geld für die Gesundheitsversorgung ohne jeden Erfolg hinterhergeschmissen. Richtig sei, so Nossal, dass die Regierung pro Aborigine 57 US-Cent für die Gesundheitsversorgung ausgebe und für alle anderen Australier nur 53 Cent. "Aber angesichts eines Gesundheitszustandes, der dreimal schlechter ist als der der Hauptbevölkerung, ist der Unterschied winzig." Erschwerend kommt hinzu, dass die meisten Aborigines-Gemeinschaften in den entlegensten Teilen Australien liegen, so dass der nächste Arzt ein paar Autostunden entfernt ist. Bürokratische Vorschriften verlangen für die Erstattung von Fahrtkosten eine Entfernung von mindestens 200 Kilometern vom nächsten Krankenhaus. Wer näher wohnt, hat Pech gehabt.

    Nach Angaben der nationalen Kommission für Aborigines und Inselbewohner der Torres-Straße (ATSIC) sind jedoch 26 Prozent aller Aborigines im erwerbsfähigen Alter ohne Arbeit, während die Quote im übrigen Australien bei acht Prozent liegt. Das Einkommen der Ureinwohner erreicht zudem nur zwei Drittel dessen, was die anderen Australier verdienen. Sie leben in schlechteren Wohnungen und ernähren sich schlechter.

    Alle diese Faktoren tragen nach übereinstimmender Meinung aller Ärzte maßgeblich dazu bei, dass der Gesundheitszustand der Aborigines wesentlich schlechter ist als der der Gesamtbevölkerung. So laufen Aborigines ein dreifach höheres Risiko, vor Vollendung ihres fünften Lebensjahres zu sterben, als andere Australier. Aufgrund der schlechteren Lebensbedingungen hat sich nach Auffassung von Olga Havnen von der NGO "Hollows Foundation" in der Gesundheitsversorgung der Aborigines ein Drehtüreffekt eingestellt. "Die Leute kommen mit einer Krankheit in Behandlung, werden als geheilt entlassen und kommen in die gleichen unhygienischen, überfüllten und schlechten Wohn- und Lebensverhältnisse zurück, die sie krank gemacht haben." (Bob Burton, Frankfurter Rundschau, 9. Januar)

Quelle: Australia

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